Review of Dogstar @ Murray
by Bill D.
I have to admit that I hung onto the earlier stuff when grunge rock and other genres started coming of age. But my boss and a co-worker (about Dogstars' age) started chiding me last year that I needed to try listening to some of the newer stuff. So, when we went online at work a while back I was looking for some radio stations and maybe a few downloads when I ran across Cornerstore, a few months after the Happy Ending CD came out. Well I was impressed and picked up the CD on my next trip through Nashville and again, I liked it a lot. So an insert in the case led me here and I saw that they were coming to Murray State University, which is only about 40 miles from here.
And hey, you don't get to see many concerts of any kind for just 8 bucks nowadays. I have been a fan of some (though not all) of Keanu's movies and remembered seeing on tv that he'd helped put the band together several years ago. I also rememeber them being skewered by the critics that they were only a band and able to tour because of Keanu and that a lot of people only came to the shows to see him (probably somewhat true). But though I haven't cared for everything that Keanu has done I've always respected him for following his own convictions and because unlike the majority of the 'Hollywood' crowd he seems much more humble.
Now the show: It wasn't a good start for the crowd. It was near freezing and the doors that were supposed to open at 7 didn't open until about 8. I think they arrived late and had to do a sound check first. But I blame the organizers for that. It was a small auditorium that would probably hold 1500-2000 people and I guess it was around 3/4's full, so a much more intimate atmosphere than larger concert halls. Surprisingly there were more people there my age than I expected, so maybe I have been stuck in the past. Anyway, still being numb from the cold the crowd was restless and ready to rock.
After a few more minutes of waiting everyone started shaking the place with noise and they came out to thunderous applause and cheers. I can't remember the order of every song, but they played pretty much everything off of Happy Ending plus a couple of earlier songs, including an accustic guitar solo/vocal by Bret. And Bret screamed on the electric guitar (I was well pleased) but his vocals were hard to understand at times.
And Rob was pounding the drums so hard that one of them tipped over, off the platform he was on and onto the floor. He hardly missed a beat though and continued that song and on into the next one while the stagehands fixed it back. I thought that they should've turned down the volume a little for such a small place, I've been to many ear shattering concerts over the years and have always enjoyed them, but at a certain point it becomes difficult to discern the different cords and vocals.
As far as Keanu; it was very evident that he not only takes playing the bass (probably my favorite instrument) very seriously, but that it really is an outlet for him to let go of all of the pressures of stardom (or whatever you call it). At times he ripped on it like a man possessed, so hard and so fast that it almost overpowered everything else. In fact, he could have cut it back 3-5 decibels for a more balanced sound with Bret and Rob. It literally caused my clothes to vibrate from 40 feet away. But man, play he did, and on his brief solo parts you could really see and hear his skill level.
One thing that bothered me (though I expected it) was some people were only focused on him and not the group as a whole (maybe not even the music). It was almost painful to watch as he kept his eyes and head turned down to the bass or stage, but if not whenever he did look up and try to engage the audience some went crazy and it caused a momentary imbalance in the show. Crowed control tried in vain to stop the cameras but did they really think they could. I kept wanting to scream "He's not a movie star tonight, he's a musician". I swear, if the guy next to me had hollered "You're the one Neo" one more time!
In spite of the excellent job he did about the only recognition that Keanu would acknowledge was when given by Bret, and when he did speak it was to acknowledge Bret and Rob's performance and to thank everyone for coming. All the more reason to respect the guy and not make him out to be some sort of God that he doesn't want to be or thinks he is. Again, sorry for last night and my 'take my ball and go home' attitude.